Quinn McColly, PhD

written by Emma Morrow

Photo by Mark Turner

Quinn McColly is a post-doctoral research associate with the Socio-Economics Group (SEG) at Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico studies. He completed his Ph.D. in Coastal and Marine System Science at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and is currently working on his MBA. Previously, he studied at Columbia College and earned a degree in Liberal Arts with a minor in History and Philosophy. He then earned his Master of Science in Environmental Science at TAMUCC. Quinn uses artificial intelligence to understand the relationship between variables in a system and to value enigmatic assets.

Before joining the SEG, Quinn worked in the Capital Markets and Finance field spending ten years as a floor trader on the Chicago Stock Exchange. After his daughter was born, Quinn decided he wanted to switch his focus to making the world a better place by improving its environmental conditions. His favorite thing about the environmental field is the ability it gives him to explore both his analytical and creative ways of thinking. “I can come up with novel solutions [by using] the analytical side of my brain, but whenever you’re developing these models there’s an element of creativity. It’s challenging and it’s different every day.” Quinn’s number one focus is on being productive and setting daily goals to accomplish. “I try to schedule tomorrow’s activities at the end of today so that I have a plan going into tomorrow.” He likes to start his day in a productive way and lives his life by the 5 by 10 approach: accomplishing five things by 10 o’clock.

His advice to those seeking a graduate degree is to make sure you enjoy your field. “To become a subject matter expert takes a long time. So make sure you really like what you’re studying, because if you don’t it’s probably going to be difficult to see it all the way through.” He also believes a positive attitude can take you far. He likes to stay optimistic and tries to find fun in his everyday activities. “These are great opportunities that are afforded to us, so try to remember that it is a privilege. Have a humble attitude.” Quinn also believes saying ‘I don’t know’ shouldn’t be frowned upon. He considers those that can admit when they don’t know something as more accepting of learning new ideas and ways of thinking.

Photo by Caleb Harris

In his free time, Quinn enjoys cycling, gardening, and sailing on his Sunfish. His favorite thing to do however, is spend time with his wife, Heather, and their daughter Abilyn. Quinn’s proudest accomplishment is being a good father to his daughter. When asked if he had any advice for being a reliable parental figure he responded, “Make sure you make time [for them],and spend time [with them]. They notice it and it means a lot to them.” Quinn has picked up many ‘hats’ in spending time with his daughter. He has compiled coaching and encouragement skills for numerous activities including gymnastics, soccer, and kickball. He loves to explore the outdoors and learn about the environment with Abby. His family enjoys traveling together when they get the opportunity. They like to roam the oceans and sail on cruises through the Caribbean and down through Mexico.

In the future, Quinn plans to work in a leadership position with a group of modelers who craft new solutions to the environmental problems we face. Further down the line, he would also like to find a way to outlet his entrepreneurial skills and passions.